Every two years Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks division invites customers and journalists to the Defence Truck Experience, reports Carl Schulze.
During the biennial Mercedes-Benz Defence Truck Experience the company showcases its range of vehicles marketed in the defence sector. The event is conducted in the vicinity of Ötigheim in Baden-Württemberg, at the company’s own off-road test and training track. The Joint Forces Team was among the invited media-outlets to attend the event.
Trucks manufactured by Mercedes-Benz are known for their reliability, robustness and high performance. The primary focus of the Defence Truck Experience 2023 was placed on the Zetros, Arocs and UNIMOG ranges manufactured by the company.
Mercedes-Benz Vehicles on Show: Participating in the event were, for example, three versions of the Zetros bonnet-trucks, namely: the Zetros 1836 A 4×4 truck and the Zetros 3342 A 6×6 truck, both fitted with cargo bodies; and a Zetros 2743 A 6×6 truck fitted with a 13,000 litre tank body produced by Lindner & Fischer Fahrzeugbau GmbH.
In case of the Arocs cab-over-engine truck range, the Arocs 1827 AK 4×4, Arocs 3343 A 6×6 and Arocs 4152 AK 8×8, all fitted with cargo bodies, took part in the event.
Turning to the UNIMOG range of heavy-duty off-road trucks, a UNIMOG U5023 4×4 with crew-cab and a UNIMOG U5000 4×4, both with cargo bodies, were shown as well as a UNIMOG U5023 4×4 configured as fire engine by the Austrian company Rosenbauer International AG.
FGA Special Purpose Chassis: While manufacturing and marketing its own truck ranges Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks also sells special chassis and component sets / cabins based on Daimler Truck AG products to other national and international vehicle manufactures. Part of this range of products is the family of FGA special purpose chassis for off-road vehicles which, for example, can be fitted with armoured bodies. FGA special purpose chassis are available with a gross vehicle weight of either 9,500kg (FGA 9.5), 12,500kg/13,000kg (FGA 12.5/13) or 14,500kg (FGA 14.5).
Vehicles based on FGA special purpose chassis present at this year’s Defence Truck Experience included: the GTP 4×4 based on FGA 14.5 chassis and manufactured by the Finnish company SISU Auto AB; the Ibero SMV utilising the FGA 9.5 chassis and manufactured by the Spanish company TSD; the Enok 14.8 based on the FGA 14.5 chassis and manufactured by the German company ACS Armored Car Systems GmbH; the Arive armoured infantry vehicle based on the FGA 14.5 chassis and manufactured by the French manufacturer Soframe; and the Dingo 3 based on the FGA 9.5 chassis and manufactured by the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG.
Soframe also showcased its HRV 8×8 heavy recovery vehicle that is based on the Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks Arocs 4848 AK 8×8 truck. A vehicle range utilising components manufactured by Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks is the Derman logistic support vehicle family manufactured by Koluman. The first vehicles of the family have just entered service with the Turkish Armed Forces. At the Defence Truck Experience 2023 a Derman 8×8 logistic truck with cargo handling system was also shown. The Derman trucks feature a Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks Arocs 8×8 based drive-train, including OM473 diesel engine and PowerShift 3 automatic transmission.
Integrated Logistic Support and Custom Tailored Trucks: Visitors to Ötigheim were also briefed on the Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) offered by the company, including data analysis in order to provide matching life-cycle support, technical publications, training support, through-life managing support, service-structure and after-sale support provided by the company’s around-the-world infrastructure and initial and continuous spare part supply during the life-cycle of the vehicle. Another briefing given covered the Custom Tailored Truck (CTT) branch of Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks. In 2023 so far the CTT branch, which is based in France at Molsheim, built 679 special purpose vehicles for all kinds of applications.
Driving the Beasts: Last but not least visitors were given the opportunity to get a ride in the different vehicles displayed, or to drive them themselves if they had the necessary driver’s licenses. For many driving around the challenging off-road course at Ötigheim in a heavy off-road truck was an outstanding experience, which they will not forget any time soon.
[images © Carl Schulze]
Editor’s Footnote: In both 2019 (Germany) and 2021 (Austria) I was fortunate in being able to attend the biennial Defence Truck / Vehicle Experiences for specialist media and although I was again invited by Mercedes-Benz to Monday’s event at Ötigheim test track, regrettably I was unable to overcome the travel logistics difficulties this time. Fortunately, however, Carl was able to change plans to attend on our behalf and not only that but the jammy beggar was blessed with blue skies for the photos! Jealous? What, me?